LGBTQ athletes don't hold back in ESPN's awesomely inclusive Body Issue.

Warning: Some images in this article show partial nudity and may be NSFW.

What does an athlete look like?

Tall? Short? Slender? Buff? There's no right or wrong answer, really. They come in various sizes, shapes, colors, sexual orientations, and genders, with all sorts of abilities and disabilities too.

ESPN magazine has been helping challenge misperceptions about athletes and their bodies since its annual Body Issue debuted in 2009. And this year's edition is continuing to push boundaries in exciting ways.  





For the first time, same-sex partners appear together in the much-anticipated issue.

WNBA star Sue Bird and her partner soccer player Megan Rapinoe snapped pics for the publication, and the photos are pretty darn fantastic.


Bird (left) and Rapino (right). Photo by Radka Leitmeritz/ESPN.

"It's pretty amazing to think about [being the first same-sex couple], especially in the times we're in," Rapinoe told the magazine. "Just think of how far we've come, but also the current climate and defiance in the face of that. Not only are we female athletes, but we're dating as well. It's kind of badass."

Rapino (left) and Bird (right). Photo by Radka Leitmeritz/ESPN.

Openly gay Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is also in this year's issue.

“I couldn't have done this [shoot] while I was in the closet," Rippon said. "I think that, with my experience of coming out, I felt so liberated in so many ways.”

Photo by Mark Seliger/ESPN.

The magazine has also made strides to celebrate different body types and athletes with varied experiences outside of sports.

Tennis player Esther Vergeer, who uses a wheelchair, graced its pages in 2010. MLB player Prince Fielder's appearance in the 2014 issue sparked the body positive hashtag #HuskyTwitter into existence.

Transgender triathlete Chris Mosier continued breaking down barriers in 2016 with his feature in the magazine.

"Now I feel very comfortable in my own skin," Mosier explained. "I think the reason I felt so inspired to do it is that I'm finally at a place where I feel very comfortable with my body. And as a trans person, being in a body that didn't really fit me for 29 years, now I feel very comfortable in my own skin."

Blazing these trails matters.

Young people are watching sports — and reading magazine spreads. And when they can see themselves in the stars on a soccer field, or Olympians in an ice skating rink, it makes big dreams much more achievable.

"I think it's important to do these things first," Rapinoe told ESPN for this year's issue. "It's important for people to come out. Visibility is important."

Check out a preview gallery of the 2018 Body Issue before it hits stands on June 29.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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